Garland takes what some would call a redundant sci fi premise (AI gone… MoreGarland takes what some would call a redundant sci fi premise (AI gone bad!) and makes a very harrowing, engaging commentary on what it means to be human through a Frakenstein-esque thriller.
Between the visual direction, phenomenal acting, astute dialogue and overall design there's a level of undeniable finesse to Ex Machina that lends a huge hand in getting poignant ideas across. The toxicity of loneliness in Ava, (or arguably, the whole cast.) creating and understanding life deteriorating Nathan's empathy for it, innocence is not a virtue in Caleb... and so forth.
The beauty is that it manages to have so much to say through the delivery of an intelligent mystery. The suspense rarely leaves your mind between the character studies and interactions of an isolated enigmatic genius, the tragically optimistic average joe and the curiously deceptive android. A perfect balance of commentary and plot.
Ex Machina is an incredibly rewarding film to viewers who can appreciate the science, complex characters and the revealing darker aspects of humanity. To those who can't it's an equally intelligent multi-layered thriller.
One question though, why didn't Nathan simply install an emergency remote off switch on Ava? Seems like the first thing one would do...
Considering the wave of terrible 90's Scifi sequels/remakes we've had… MoreConsidering the wave of terrible 90's Scifi sequels/remakes we've had fired our way in the past few years (Terminator, Robocop, Total Recall etc.) Fury Road's success has been more than a pleasant surprise.
It takes a lot of very 80's dystopian post-apocalyptic sensibilities and puts it in modern context. The relevant storytelling, characterization and heavy play on social themes make it a compelling tale but it's the barebones, relentlessly unforgiving visuals that make it a thrilling ride through and through.
There's more to the world of Mad Max than sand dunes and angry people with automobiles though, with very little screen time Miller manages to convey a very elaborate society full of warrior tribes, caste systems and cultural/religious customs that are intriguing if not visually iconic.
Let's also not forget the cast of characters representing a variety of minorities without feeling like forced tokens. A phenomenal performance by Charlize Theron breathes badassery into Furiosa and the manic Nux played by Hoult! It seems the best way to bring back the "strong silent type" hero is to in fact keep him silent. (who would've guessed?) Hardy skims by as Max with stern looks, grunts and single syllable words and for that we love him.
At the end of the day Fury Road is both a nonsensical, visceral action packed adventure about a bunch of rebels fighting the system but also an intelligent character study with a dab of social commentary. Some of these folks are larger than life (Max) others victims/villains turned heroes (Furiosa, Breeders, Nux) which ever you appreciate more you're both cheering and enamored by the spectacle.
I think the best way to describe Age of Ultron is a lot of "great"… MoreI think the best way to describe Age of Ultron is a lot of "great" moments that come together to simply make a "good" movie.
There's a lot to love, blatant fanservice aside (Hulkbuster armor, Warmachine/Falcon cameo etc.) there are probably several resonating scenes within the film that you'll absolutely adore. However, when all these little things come together you're almost left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Marvel is evolving filmmaking and Age of Ultron isn't really a movie in the traditional sense, it's an episode. It spends roughly 35% of screentime setting up a healthy future for the Marvel franchise from the Infinity Gauntlet, to Civil War and the Avengers initiative to Thor's Ragnarok etc. there's a plethora of nuance that hints at world building material that hinders the quality of a standalone film.
And that I'm actually pretty cool with! It's just that people expecting a movie in what we've come to understand them as may be taken back by this particular approach of filmmaking. For example we aren't given ample time to breath anymore, ever, with the incredibly large cast we're quickly dictated to feel a certain way about a character almost immediately. Relationships rapidly develop and fall, (Natasha x Bruce) identifying backgrounds come out of nowhere (Clint the family man), likeability must be established so we feel something upon their passing (Quicksilver), and it's not that any of it doesn't make sense but directors are going to have to start being careful at the hasty rate they present us all these "mini-stories" or else we'll choke before we can swallow any of them.
Due to this relentless velocity, a lot of the movie does in fact come off contrive. Like cleverly using Wanda's powers to give character development through flashbacks or abruptly revealing Clint the everyday man because a team of "gods" needs someone down-to-earth to keep them relatable or creating a "much needed" romance out of a plot device required to control the Hulk. These are a few examples but you get the idea, when convenience is seen as a writing tool it's quickly interpreted as a sham.
The plot isn't as intelligent as I had hoped, themes of global instability due to the Avengers dominance as a potential military force that were touched upon in "Winter Soldier" wasn't revisited nor were politics like backlash from other countries due to collateral damage from the Hulkbuster vs Hulk fight. Where has the relevant social commentary that made the original "Iron Man" such a hit gone to?
Another issue I personally had with the film was Ultron's portrayal, his familiarity and constant use of humor, an incredibly human trait, was really off-putting! He's not the enigmatic, cold, omnipotent robotic being he was meant to be. There were a lot of stellar moments for the character though, like the scene where he accidentally rips the man's arm off like a child feeling anger for the first time, forgetting the fragility of the human body. It was perfect! Or his final conversation with Vision before his death, also a really well written point that I truly enjoyed.
I also enjoyed Natasha's past with the Red Room and her coming together with Bruce as a couple, Ironman and Warmachine blasting shit out of the sky, Hawkeye helping Wanda overcome her fears, Steve telling Tony how he had come to terms with his past and found his new home...
There really is a never ending list of wonderful moments in Age of Ultron but that's what the movie is. A lot of commendable individual scenes but when they come together to be enjoyed as a coherent story it simply stands as "good" entertainment. Again though, that's not so bad if you accept the fact that Marvel is evolving what defines a movie. They're now episodes of something much larger, a constant growing world that should be viewed subsequently of each other.
It may not have the novelty or grandeur of the original film, but what Age of Ultron tells us is that Avengers movies will always be above-par entertainment. Never forgetting the importance of blending action with emotion and character. They also tell us "Hey you didn't love this movie? Fine we have a lot more in store for you in the future that you'll probably like anyway"
Which y'know, is fucking smart money-making. $__$
The film isn't by any means "bad", but there just doesn't feel like… MoreThe film isn't by any means "bad", but there just doesn't feel like there was nearly enough content to really fill a 2 hour film. It's almost like the final 2 parts were shot and they were like "Don't bother editing it, we need all the footage we can get!"
That being said, the film's pacing is always slow. Everything has too much time to breathe and there's a constant atmosphere of heavy drama even through the most basic of scenes.
It works as a 1 hour standalone film, but a 2 hour teaser for the finale? Not so much. I enjoyed the story and her navigation through propaganda/politics but ugh, there's just so much they could've done to keep the viewer from falling asleep. Throw in some scenes with Peeta's POV or elaborate on the scene where she shoots down a bomber with a bow an arrow, just something!
The film is essentially a 2 hour and 30 min action sequence with the… MoreThe film is essentially a 2 hour and 30 min action sequence with the best production values money can buy. Forget having a narrative, lets just throw as many action sequences together and loosely string them together with a premise that we'll call a plot.
The pacing isn't even good either, Smaug's death was underwhelming and completely overshadowed by later events. Rather than "The Battle of Five Armies" why not call it "A Dragon dies and Legolas beats everyone up."?
The Hobbit trilogy started out as a decent set of films but has whole heartedly embraced the fact that it's nothing more than fanservice for the LOTR franchise. Some may love it for that fact but as a film critic I simply can't be so forgiving.